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Cyber Espionage A Growing Threat To National Security

McAfee has announced findings from its annual cyber security study in which experts warned that the rise in international cyber spying will pose the single biggest security threat in 2008. Other major trends include an increasing threat to online services such as banking and the emergence of a complex and sophisticated market for malware.

The annual McAfee Virtual Criminology Report examines emerging global cyber security trends, with input from NATO, the FBI, SOCA and experts from groups and universities. The report finds the following conclusions:

  • Governments and allied groups are using the Internet for cyber spying and cyber attacks
  • Targets include critical national infrastructure network systems such as electricity, air traffic control, financial markets and government computer networks 120 countries are now using the Internet for Web espionage operations
  • Cyber assaults have become more sophisticated in their nature, designed to specifically slip under the radar of government cyber defenses

"Cybercrime is now a global issue," said Jeff Green, senior vice president of McAfee Avert Labs and product development. "It has evolved significantly and is no longer just a threat to industry and individuals but increasingly to national security. We're seeing emerging threats from increasingly sophisticated groups attacking organisations around the world. Technology is only part of the solution, and over the next five years we will start to see international governments take action.”

There is a new level of complexity in malware not seen before. These 'super-strength' threats are more resilient, are modified over and over again like recombinant DNA, and contain highly sophisticated functionality such as encryption draw.

A new target for cybercriminals is Voice over IP (Internet Protocol) software. There have been several high-profile 'vishing' (phishing via VoIP) attacks and 'phreaking' (hacking into telephone networks to make long distance phone calls).

Experts believe a sustained cyber attack on banks could severely damage public trust in online banking and put the brakes on e-commerce. Critics believe the efforts to address online banking security will not be effective enough or fast enough.

The 'white market' that exists to buy and sell software flaws is fuelling a virtual arms trade in potentially significant security threats. Software flaws can fetch big money -- up to $75,000, and experts believe that while this white market exists there is an increasing danger of flaws falling into the hands of cybercriminals.

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Updated Date: Jan 31, 2017 01:24:30 IST